I finally got around to writing some supplementary material for Graylands.
For this first post, we’re going to look at Graylands as a country and some of the different peoples who dwell there….
Graylands is a country/continent in the world known as The Realm. It is separated from the Two Empires by oceans on both sides, and it has a small sea near the center called the Spade Sea—named because its shape resembles an ace of spades. The north, known within the country as the Northern Regions, is the most developed and populous—being where most of the first settlers landed. It’s there the largest cities are located.
As one goes south, one finds vast frontier of plains, hills, and forests with towns and villages of varying size scattered throughout. On the eastern side of the Spade Sea is mountainous, desert land. Further south of Graylands are harsh badlands where little to no one dares venture—beyond which is the Dread Sea that separates the country from the Dark Lands, where demons and creatures of the Black dwell.
Little is known about Graylands’ ancient history or who its earliest inhabitants were. Some historians believe, however, the land was where the fiercest and final battles of the Great Dark War were fought. It’s said Graylands was where the creatures of the Black were driven back into the Dark Lands and the last of the Seraphim died doing so. After the war, the country was abandoned and forgotten for several centuries—likely believed to be cursed, irreparably tainted, or out of simple fear due to its proximity to the Dark Lands.
Some time ago, the country was rediscovered by accident by a belligerent sailor named Oswald Morrigan. Fleeing a gambling debt, his ship got lost during a storm and came upon the north-western coast. He and his crew remained there for about a week before returning to the country of Vigor with news of his discovery. The name Graylands came about from an off-hand remark made by Morrigan regarding the weather. Having rained the entire time he was there, he described the mystery land he stumbled upon as: “a gray shit-hole.”
Shortly after, historians started coming to study and learn. Not long after the historians, settlers, pilgrims, and refugees came to the rediscovered country. The Empires of the Realm quickly saw opportunity for colonization, but it was the Vigorian Kingdom—the most powerful of them—who decreed the land would be a neutral country until a mutual agreement for its ownership could be met. In the decades since, no such agreement has been found, leaving Graylands a haven for people fleeing the Empires for one reason or another.
Graylands has no unified government or army. There’s a generally agreed system of law enforced by the Sentry Elite and Guardian Mages, but otherwise, each city and town relies on its own militia. As such, the further into the frontier one goes, the more likely one is to find outlaws and brigands roaming the countryside between villages. Throughout the years, some ambitious men and women have attempted to declare themselves King/Queen of the land, but none have had much success unifying the country.
Even after the Vigorian Kingdom has fallen, the country has remained neutral, but tensions between the two remaining Empires have been growing ever since, and it’s feared by many it will be for control of Graylands that triggers open war.
Humans are the most populous people of the Realm. They exist all over the world and come in a variety of races and ethnicity. Most are divided up by their countries or relation to the Two Empires, but Graylands—being a haven for pilgrims, settlers, fugitives, and refugees from all over the Realm—is home to all manner of people regardless of their race.
Lighter skinned people exist all over the Realm, and given the numerous countries within the Two Empires, there’s a great variety of culture among them.
Of note are the Vigorian people. The Kingdom of Vigor was said to be the most beautiful of all the Empires, and their royal family could be traced back to the Seraphim. Vigor, in its prime, was very much a land out of a fairy tale.
Being the most prosperous kingdom, Vigor was looked upon by the other Empires as chief and acted as a balance of power between the Two. Unfortunately, Vigor waned when the throne was usurped by the mad general Armand Tyrell. His rule eventually led to the destruction of the Kingdom from the Red Plague. As a result, the land of Vigor has been abandoned due to fear of the plague, and pure-blooded Vigorians are now virtually extinct.
People of darker skin mostly originate around the continent known as Aspera.
Aspera is relatively isolated—miles from every other continent by rough seas and connected to the rest of the world only by a small land-bridge of treacherous mountains called the Jagged Mountains. All invasion attempts from outside forces have ended in disaster for the invaders, making Aspera the only country aside from Graylands still independent from either of the Two Empires
Much of Aspera is badlands with harsh soil and poor farming, and the weather is rough year round. The continent is also home to some of the deadliest and most ill-tempered wild life outside of the Dark Lands. Those that choose to live in the country have to contend with these conditions, and those that choose to leave either have to venture through the Jagged Mountains, or attempt to sail through some of the most treacherous waters in the world.
Because of this, the Asperan people have a (well-deserved) reputation for being stubborn and as harsh as their homeland.
On the other side of the Jagged Mountains is the nation of Meza, whose people range from olive skinned to dark tanned. The country has known a chaotic history due to its location between two larger nations on its left and right. As such, the Mezan people have seen much conflict along with countless varieties of people coming and going.
The Scimitar have no nation of their own and are a nomadic people. Because of this, they have little-to-no common links in appearance aside from red-orange eyes.
They are a race of warriors who for centuries offered their services to the highest bidder. Their fighting prowess rivaled even the Eldér, and it was said the commander who had the Scimitar as his ally knew no defeat. They are a fiercely proud people who hold to a strict code of honor—although, being a race of mercenaries, they have their own definition of what “honor” is.
The Scimitar went into decline after a disastrous attempt to form an empire of their own. With the combination of in-fighting and their enemies uniting against them, there was a massive purge of the Scimitar race—which is why, much like the Vigorian, they are all but extinct.
Some Scimitar remain—offering their service as mercenaries and assassins to those who would accept them—but their numbers fade by the year, and they are mostly remembered now as an untrustworthy band of lowly killers.
There are of course more races and ethnicity to be found in the Realm, and people from all nations have found their way to Graylands, making the relatively young country something of a melting pot.
But these are the ones I’ve managed to think of names and backgrounds for. So far.
The Eldér are one of the oldest living species in the Realm. They are the closest descendants of the now-extinct Seraphim and practically immortal. Because of this, they are regarded as the wisest and most knowledgeable of all people. Eldér are known for their natural beauty and great strength. They tend to be taller than humans—an average height for an Eldér would be about six feet. They are all lean, athletic people, noted for their pointed ears and cat-like eyes. Eldér also tend to have multi-colored hair—specifically streaks of contrasting color in the front.
There are two races of Eldér: the Whitelander and Woodlander. The Whitelander Eldér have pure white skin and thin, silky hair. They are a more spiritual race, favoring meditation and inner-enlightenment, and concern themselves mostly with study and prefer to keep to themselves. Because of this, the Whitelander Eldér are often regarded by others as aloof and sanctimonious. The only human race they had any true relation to was the Vigorian, and with them virtually extinct, the Whitelanders have had less and less interaction with humans.
The Woodlander Eldér are distinguished by their darker, tanned, almost orange skin. In contrast to their Whitelander kin, they tend to have thicker hair and larger ears. Culturally, they are lovers of music and the arts, and are more in tune with nature. Also unlike the Whitelanders, the Woodlanders are more open to dealing with other peoples. As such, they have more cordial relations to humans and Graigfolk.
Both races are renowned for their exceptional fighting skills.
Like other peoples, Eldér have come to Graylands for various reasons. Most Whitelanders that live in Graylands do so as archeologists, advisors, or demon hunters. Most Woodlanders in Graylands are adventurers, refugees, or bodyguards.
Graigfolk originate from the small nation of Graig. It is a mountainous region, and the Graigfolk evolved accordingly. They are known to be shorter in stature—on average around 5 feet, 4 inches. Despite their height, Graigfolk are known to be very tough and dexterous, with thick skin, strong bones, and broad shoulders. They are also distinguished by their olive skin and wide, flat noses. Though they do not live nearly as long as Eldér, Graigfolk have longer lifespans than humans.
Like Woodlander Eldér, the Graigfolk are a sociable race, open to trade and alliances. Their primary exports from their homeland are minerals mined in their mountains, iron-works from their blacksmiths, and liquor. A superstitious people, Graigfolk have little use for magic, preferring technology built with their hands. It was the Graigfolk who invented the explosive black powder for use in their mining—though they quickly realized the potential of it for military purposes. Because of their mastery of black powder, the Graigfolk are the closest to developing functioning guns—though even their efforts are unreliable at best thus far.
Graigfolk are rare in Graylands. Because of the country’s proximity to the Dark Lands, few dare to mine in the south out of fear of stirring any creatures of the Black lying dormant. After the country was rediscovered, however, they initially came en masse to the mountains and deserts in the east, but quickly came into conflict with the Goblins that already claimed the area as their own. Graigfolk and Goblins have been natural enemies all over the Realm for centuries, but the bloodiest wars between the two peoples were fought in eastern Graylands over the course of several decades. In time, the Goblins won, and the remaining Graigfolk of Graylands were scattered or killed.
The only Graigfolk still to be found in Graylands are mostly survivors of the Goblin Wars or mercenaries for hire.
Goblins are a species of people known to populate subterranean, mountainous regions all over the Realm. They are similar to humans in height and weight—distinguished by their leathery flesh, which tends to come in shades of green and yellow. Goblins are also known for their sharp features, including hooked noses, pointed chins, and large ears similar to Woodlander Eldér. Though active during the day, they are generally a nocturnal people.
Contrary to popular belief, owing mainly to their appearance and living underground, Goblins are not actually related to demons. Some Eldér historians believe their distant ancestors might have had some connection to the Black, but Goblins deny this. They are, however, an aggressive people who prefer to remain clear of the rest of the world’s affairs. Notably, Goblins were the only race to stay out of the Great Dark War altogether. Because of this and their isolationist attitude, Goblins are regarded with low esteem by the rest of the Realm.
The Goblins of Graylands mainly populate the eastern portion of the country. Although not native, it is believed they have inhabited the country the longest—choosing to remain behind after it was initially abandoned following the Great Dark War. Though they will grudgingly tolerate the presence of other races—provided they are given something in return—they are a proud race, fiercely territorial, and do not take kindly to threats.
That’ll be all for now.
I think there are other species that exist in the Realm, such as Giants, but few—if any—of these people/creatures are known to live in Graylands so I won’t bother getting into them here.
Links to other appendices:
Graylands ©2016 by M. Walsh